November 14th 1779, Sir Charles Raymond‘s magnificent East Indiaman ship the Valentine was returning from her fourth voyage to India, laden with Chinese porcelain, bales of silk and other valuable items. This time the usual 14-month or so journey had already stretched to over three years!
The outward journey had been fairly uneventful, but at the start of her return journey from India, she had struck a reef and nothing could be done to pull her off, until her masts had been cut down and all her top cannon thrown overboard. The refit would delay her departure by several months.
The next delay was caused by needing to come to the aid of the English Navy for the Battle Of Pondicherry against the French.
After taking on passengers at Bengal, she then had to stop for several months in St Helena, to wait for other ships to join so they could travel in comparative safety, owing to being at war with France and Spain. Now, within days of reaching home after her final stopover in Ireland, weather conditions, combined with the marine environment off the coast of Sark in the Channel Islands, were to prove too much for her. A strong NorthWesterly gale broke up the naval convoy and she was forced to try to run for cover in Guernsey.
Guernsey, St Peter Port
The wreck is discovered nearly 200 years later
Fast forward to 1974. A young scuba diver from Guernsey, Richard Keen, had learnt of the wreck and was fascinated to locate it. However, the high rise and fall of the tide and strong currents, with many rocks in the area, make this a hazardous place to dive.
Richard, succeeding where others failed, would eventually be successful in this dangerous and difficult operation.
And so it was a real privilege for some of the Volunteers to meet Richard in person when he and our historian Georgina Green visited Valentines on Sunday 27th October 2019, prompting me to revisit the story and research conducted by Georgina, Richard and the Valentines Excavation Group in the 1970s. Diana Smith
On 14th November, it will be exactly 240 years since the Valentine was wrecked, so what better time to revisit the story? More of the story of the wreck of the Valentine is available, thanks to Georgina’s research, Richard’s work and the report of the Valentines Excavation Group in 1976 and a fuller article will be published in our next newsletter.
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Book now for a unique, spooky Escape Room experience! The Valentines Anomaly
In the meantime, you may let your imagination free by booking for the Valentines Anomaly! Will you discover an artefact from the ill-fated Valentine?